The Bell Curve

Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life

Herrnstein, Richard J.

(Book - 1996)
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
The Bell Curve
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Offering a perspective on the social and economic problems of contemporary America, this study examines the relationship between ethnicity and intelligence.
Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, 1996
Edition: 1st Free Press pbk. ed
ISBN: 9780684824291
Branch Call Number: 153.93 H568b 1996
Characteristics: xxvi, 872 p. :,ill. ;,24 cm
Additional Contributors: Murray, Charles A.


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The Bell Curve was known to be flawed when it was first published in 1994. not only due to dubious science but also dubious logic. The passing of two decades has not been kind to the book, as more evidence mounts to contradict its central claims. When it was first published, Stephen Jay Gould reviewed it in the New Yorker, noting that "The authors omit facts, misuse statistical methods, and seem unwilling to admit the consequence of their own words." http://www.dartmouth.edu/~chance/course/topics/curveball.html Slate's "The Bell Curve Flattened" is also worth reading: http://www.slate.com/articles/briefing/articles/1997/01/the_bell_curve_flattened.html

May 06, 2014
  • danielestes rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

The Bell Curve was first published 20 years ago and the contention that intelligence has a causal relationship with heredity is as controversial as ever. Herrnstein (who passed away before the book was published) and Murray set out to gather and present the data on intelligence and class structure, and ultimately let the facts speak for themselves.

I don't disagree with the authors' conclusions. Our desperate need for equality in all things will no doubt keep this issue a heated one. My main critique of The Bell Curve is structural. The presentation of the material is monotonous, consisting of dry facts and dry charts. Kudos to the authors though for allowing the reader an out. Each chapter begins with a summary and those of us who have little love for elongated statistical explanations are invited to read that and skip the rest.


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